By Yew Lun Tian
BEIJING, Sept 23 (Reuters) - China's former Deputy Public Security Minister Sun Lijun, who had been denounced for "seriously damaging the unity of the party", has been jailed for life, state media said on Friday, ahead of a key Communist Party congress.
Sun, 53, was handed a suspended death sentence that will be commuted to life imprisonment after two years, with no possibility of parole, according to a state news agency Xinhua report of the Friday court sentencing.
The court said his crimes included giving and taking bribes amounting to 646 million yuan ($91 million), manipulating the stock market and illegally owning two firearms.
In January, China's Public Security Ministry, where Sun was a deputy minister until 2020, held a meeting to denounce him and vowed to eradicate the "venomous" influence of his "political clique".
This week, other officials whom state broadcaster CCTV had said were members of Sun's "political clique" also received long jail sentences.
They include former Justice Minister Fu Zhenghua and three former police chiefs of Shanghai, Chongqing and Shanxi provinces.
It is customary for the party to announce the arrest or sentencing of high-profile officials in the lead-up to its once-every-five-years congress as a way to remind party members to be loyal.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term at the Congress that starts from Oct. 16.
At the last Party Congress in 2017, Xi vowed to keep targeting both the "tigers" and "flies", a reference to elite officials and low-level bureaucrats, in his battle against corruption.
Falling from grace each year are also hundreds of thousands of officials who violate the Communist Party's "discipline and laws", including in recent times failure to contain COVID-19 outbreaks.
($1 = 7.0988 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Gerry Doyle and Toby Chopra)
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